How to Stop Condensation in Your Tent
Camping is fun and enjoyable while condensation can be annoying. If you are new to camping, especially camp in rainy or very humid weather and wake up in the morning with you and your gear all damp, and touching the side of the tent means more moisture on you and your belongings, it generally will be condensation.
Condensation is something that can happen in any tent to varying degrees. It happens one of two ways: either the air is cooled to its dew point or it becomes so saturated with water vapor that it cannot hold any more water. Dew point is the temperature at which condensation happens. (Dew is simply condensed water in the atmosphere.) Air temperatures can reach or fall below the dew point naturally, as they often do at night. That's why lawns, cars, and houses are often coated with water droplets in the morning.
In general, if the temperature inside the tent drops below the dew point temperature, then moisture will condense on the walls. Similarly, if the humidity outside the tent is higher than inside and there is no air-movement – i.e. no wind – then there will be some condensation. Temperature plays a role, as well: you are more likely to experience condensation in cooler weather, especially in higher humidity situations.
Condensation can also be affected by different body types, sleeping bag type, how much heat you produce and the like. This is why it sometimes might seem odd that one person has a tent with more condensation than another.
So how to stop it?
There are a few options to reduce this problem, NOT stop, it cannot be 100% prevented.
1. Ventilation – open up all the vents if the air weather allows
Each of us exhales about 1 liter of water as we sleep at night. Keep doors and pop out vents open to allow better airflow into the tent. The air you exhale can escape.
Worried about being cold with those doors/vents open? Then invest in good sleeping gear. The tent is your house while the sleeping gear is your bed when you camping.
2. Consider where you pitch your tent
If you are pitching your tent and concerned about condensation, think about your tent placement. The more sheltered sites could be protected from a breeze (and that is something many of us want). But a breeze can also be beneficial in getting air into your tent.
In a valley might also be a problem, as cool air will collect there, making your tent more susceptible to condensation.
Being close to rivers, dams, water sources can increase your chance of condensation due to humidity.
3. Avoid bringing in wet clothing and gear
Storing wet equipment in the vestibule or in the tent itself can also contribute to condensation in a tent. The moisture evaporates, adding to the water vapor in the tent. If you possibly can, leave outside the tent (or bring inside, in dry sacks, so no evaporation occurs).
4. Do not cook or eat hot food inside your tent
It’s tempting to cook inside your tent, especially tents like the Atacama and Solo Expedition tents with large utility bays and peak heights tall enough to stand. Don’t do it. It’s unsafe in every way, and boiling water creates large vapor volumes.
5. Deal with it - with a towel
Carry a microfiber or pack towel to wipe away excess moisture. Whenever possible store your tent dry and loosely gathered to prevent any moisture from causing damage.
6. Use a double-layer tent and stake your tent out fully
The two layers consist of the breathable tent material and the waterproof rainfly above it. Flysheets are designed to allow condensation to run down the inside of the tent to the ground. Be sure to stake out the tent properly and taut with the flysheet far enough away from the inner tent to ensure adequate airflow. Do not allow the two layers to touch as this will transfer moisture from the flysheet to the inner which is not waterproof in most cases.
Are any tents going to be immune to condensation? No. There are too many factors as mentioned above that could cause condensation.
Condensation might just be a part of your camping experience to some degree or another. If it's going to occur, move gear away from the sides of your tent to prevent them from getting wet also. Condensation is not ideal, but don't let it spoil your camping trip (just remember to dry your tent well before it's packed away!).